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Can Men File Sexual Harrassment Lawsuits in Georgia Too?

Today the Atlanta Journal and Constitution reported that

“A former Chattahoochee Hills police lieutenant has filed a federal lawsuit against the…city, saying he was sexually harassed by the former city manager and then unfairly fired by the former police chief. The suit by James Melton accuses former City Manager Carol Wolfe of making repeated and unprovoked sexual advances toward him when he worked under her supervision.Melton also contends former Police Chief Damon Jones terminated him in September 2010 for refusing to lie in another police agency’s investigation of Jones in an unrelated case….

According to the suit, between December 2009 and September 2010, Wolfe approached Melton sexually in both professional and out-of-work settings and at one point invited him to stay with her in a room she had rented at Serenbe Farm House.
Melton repeatedly rebuffed Wolfe’s advances, however, acknowledging her position as Jones’ supervisor, and therefore Melton’s superior. “It was inappropriate because that was my boss, and that would’ve been crossing the line,” Melton told Channel 2 Action News.”

The outcome of this case is months, if not years, away, but no one should be the victim of unwanted sexual attention, men or women.

Typically women are thought to be the ones suffering from sexual harassment in the workplace. And it is true that the vast majority of sexual harassment lawsuits are brought my women. But the laws protecting people from sexual harassment in the workplace are not gender specific.

Although numbers of actual filings of sexual harassment files are going down (possibly a sign of a better educated, more diverse workplace throughout the United States) the percentage of those filings by men has gone up. In 2011, 16.3% of all EEOC cases were filed by men.

As long as the following guidelines are true in a particular case then it can be deemed Sexual Harassment:

  • It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.
  • Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.
  • Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.
  • Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).
  • The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.
  • http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/sexual_harassment.cfm

If you think you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, you may wish to contact Betts and Associates.